Joelle Pfeil ‘17- Her tap shoes race across the stage, her eyes shine in the spotlight, and her feet throb after she removes her ballet shoes. Ryane Ruszala ‘17 needs dance like many need oxygen. Dance became not only her outlet, but her passion as well.

“I do not know how I would survive if I quit,” said Ruszala.

Although her entire life revolves around dance, it also has it’s consequences. Free time becomes a foreign concept. Consumed by dance, she moves constantly, be it classes, competitions, camps or choreographing. The abundance of dancing causes copious amounts of stress on muscles and joints. In May of 2012, it became time to inquire about recurring hip pains. The results caused a pit in her stomach.

“When the doctor came back into the room with the test results, everything felt like it was going in slow motion,” Ruszala said. “Then the words ‘you have to quit dancing’ came out of my doctors mouth. I had no idea what I was going to do. It was one of the most shocking moments of my life.”

However, Ruszala refused to stop. In fact, the startling news motivated her to push herself even harder. Competitions were quickly approaching, and Nationals were right around the corner. Instead of complaining about her new predicament, she just let it become a small bump in the road. She tried it all: extra stretching, better diet, and physical therapy. She made every attempt to keep her body healthy in order to continue dancing.

“I knew that if I had listened to the doctor my life would pretty much be ruined, so I continued to strive to get better,” said Ruszala. “I did not want one injury to mess up the rest of my dancing career, but I knew I had to take it easy for a while.”

With several precautions, Ruszala continues to pursue her passion for dance. Although some dances cannot be performed to the fullest, she knows how lucky she is to spend her life doing the single thing that makes her the happiest. Some athletes let their injuries take over the rest of their life. Not Ruszala. ‘Quitting’ and ‘giving up’ aren’t in her vocabulary.

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